BAYA Book Review

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

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Johnson, Leah. You Should See Me In A Crown. Scholastic, 2020. 324p. ISBN: 9781338503265. $17.99. MS, HS ****

Liz Lighty is the least likely prom queen in Campbell County Indiana. She is queer, black, poor, and completely uninterested in fashion or popularity. The only reason she even wants to be prom queen is for the full-ride scholarship students win when they are crowned queen or king in this prom-obsessed school. See, Liz has earned a spot at prestigious Pennington College which is her dream school for music, but she did not earn the scholarship she hoped for. There is no way she’s going to let her grandparents know because otherwise they would sell the house where she and her brother have lived with them ever since their mother died of sickle cell anemia. So as unlikely as it seems, Liz and her friends hatch a plan to make her the prom queen. That is how she meets Mac, another girl running for prom queen whose incredible eyes set Liz’s heart on fire. Between the pom-bots (do not confuse them for cheerleaders) and jacket jocks working to sabotage her, keeping secrets from her devoted grandparents, drama among friends as ambition and loyalty collide, the complications of starting a relationship when being out would ruin her chances at a crown, and trying to manage her own panic attacks as well as her younger brother’s sickle cell…let’s just say Liz has a lot on her plate. Still she keeps up her determination because that’s the Lighty way! But does she have what it takes to make it onto the stage as the prom queen? And if she does, will she have anyone left in her corner by the time she gets there?

This is such a fun and uplifting story about a determined teen going after their goal, even when their goal is unexpected. Liz is a great character because she’s honest about what she wants and why she wants it. Even when she feels like she can’t tell the people who care about her what is going on, she thinks critically about why that is, and isn’t afraid to reevaluate her choices and change her mind. She ends up changing not just what it means to be prom queen for her herself and her friends, but for the whole school. In a setting that is all stereotypes, Liz breaks right through and shows that you can have your prom and your principles too! An empowering, diverse, effervescent rom-com of a book with no swearing or drinking or sex, this is the perfect book for any teen who has thought about prom and wondered if there maybe isn’t more to it than what the 80s movies show. This is the sweet prom romance even I could get behind!

-Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library – Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch

Tags: Diverse, LGBTQ+, People of color, Realistic, Romance

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